Municipal Use of Digital Signage – Part 2

August 1, 2016

Municipal

Municipalities serve the residents and businesses that make up their community.

Safety, recreation, public transit, roads, social services, parking, water service and drainage are top of the list of ratepayer services. Many of these apply digital signage within departmental budgets to provide public information, while others such as transit, recreation, art and parking infrastructure use the medium to generate non-tax revenues.

Municipalities also want to attract visitors, new residents and businesses that contribute to growth and broaden the tax base.

Digital street infrastructure is high on the priority list of municipalities, as several capabilities have converged. Wi-Fi, mobile charging, proximity information caching, wayfinding, alerts, transit information, message and advertisement display and links to mobile phones can draw on the same infrastructure to bring streets, pedestrian areas, as well as shopping, entertainment and tourist districts to life.

New York City has been leading the way but many other cities are moving forward with similar plans. “District Detroit” is a 50-block area being rejuvenated as an area of shopping, sports, live entertainment, hospitality, business and living. The CityScapes of Dallas, anchored by the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart retail outlet is a similar undertaking.

The vitality and service to patrons of annual events such as South by Southwest SXSW in Austin mean that such events can bring significant financial benefit to the community. SXSW contributes over $300 million in economic benefit annually to Austin. Most municipalities have festivals or special events that attract visitors and increase their profile.

Special events that host large numbers of visitors and local participants can offer the focus and funding to enable media infrastructure. The potential for advertisers to align their branding with the spirit of the event is attractive to their branding. Economies are built into message delivery to a large, highly concentrated audience that self-identifies as sharing an interest. Advertising can be highly contextual and very effective at establishing brand awareness and alignment.

Trade show and exhibit producers learned the lesson of digital display revenues years ago. Temporary or trailer-mounted, mobile, large-format LED signs provide a way to assess the impact of digital media during an event while at the same time kick-starting a funding campaign for permanent multi-purpose signs.

Local business operators all have marketing budgets and seek to get the most for their communications investment. The modern appeal of digital signage operating in high traffic areas and engaging consumers with addition service elements allows the advertiser to gain exceptionally good exposure.

The action plan for municipalities related to digital signage should be:

  • Have individual departments assess how their service quality, community outreach and goals could be better met by using digital signage.
  • Determine locations of high viewership as candidates for installing ad-based digital out-of-home networks.
  • Use digital media to bring modern-ness and vitality to areas where more pedestrian traffic and commerce is desired.
  • Use festivals and special events to fund digital media infrastructure.

The knowledge gained by one department can be offered to others and the buying power of a broader application can benefit each budget area. The key is to start.

 

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals. www.LyleBunn.com

 

Building the Right Digital Signage Team

August 1, 2016

Team heirarchy

The collective strengths of the people involved in a digital signage initiative generally define the project success.

Team leadership usually lies with the department that will gain the greatest benefit toward achieving their goals. Departments bring their expertise and things get done, hopefully.

Digital signage is one of those multi-department projects with touch points across the organization because of its impact on the organization.

Operationally, digital signage contributes to the productivity of places, processes and people. At the tactical level it impacts the success of the engagement of customers, patrons and staff. At the strategic level it impacts brand positioning and equity, along with the creation and leverage of assets.

When digital signage becomes the focus of discussion, each department has its own interests.

  • Everybody wants improved customer experience based on what they do as a contribution to it.
  • Executives want better corporate performance.
  • Procurement wants to minimize capital outlay, and if they are team players, the total cost of ownership.
  • Facilities seek digital signage that will deliver improved performance of the location and a better visitor experience
  • Marketing wants better branding and merchandising at lower ongoing communications cost.
  • Human Resources want to inspire productivity and minimize staff related costs such as absence, hiring and accident claims.
  • Information Technologies want a solution that works and is RAS-able (Reliable, Available, Scalable)
  • The Chief Information Officer wants to leverage data assets to improve productivity and enable new ways of operating.
  • The security department want loss prevention.

When the medium is applied, everyone has something at stake. The task of aligning those interests, marshalling resources, consensus building and “herding the cats” often calls on subject matter expertise as well as project management skills.

The project sponsor should be the highest-placed executive of the department that realizes that they have the most to gain toward digital signage helping to achieve their goals.

The team leader should be a direct report to that executive with the proven ability to get things done. They will understand the organization and its priorities, and marshal the resources to move the project forward.

Team Heirrchy 2       Team Heirarchy 3

The core elements of the team should include the key stakeholders such as marketing, information technologies, procurement, facilities and human resources. Specific groups such as security, merchant/supplier liaison, public affairs or investor relations can be engaged as suitable.

The digital signage team will oversee the design, funding, sourcing, deployment of the project, and it is common that responsibilities for ongoing elements such as network operations and content administration are met by the suitable business division. Optimization of the investment typically resides with the primary beneficiary.

Since “content” will be a primary consideration if the benefits of digital signage are to be fully realized, business units such as marketing, human resources, patron/facility personnel, line of business managers and agencies responsible for “content” on other marketing/communications devises such as TV, cable, billboard, print, internet and mobile should be involved.

Given the ability of digital signage to drive “audience of one” engagement, those involved with internet, mobile and kiosk strategy and operations will be particularly interested in the digital signage initiative from the standpoint of “transmedia” leverage.

Suppliers can be very useful in providing technology and service element expertise. External resources, such as a consultant or suppliers, able to provide objective guidance can also help to assure involvement by applicable business units while minimizing staff time and resources while minimizing time, risk and investment on the project.

“Templates” can be a strong foundation for project advancement. Designs, plans and budgets from similar projects can minimize the effort and time requirement while helping to assure that elements are adequately addressed and risk is minimized.

Digital signage has broad organizational impact, and as such there are many with interest in how the project will go forward and the medium used. The key role is that of project leader, who requires the support of management and input from other stakeholders.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Trolls and tolls in Digital Signage patents.

August 1, 2016

Caveat Emptor

Patent infringement is common in digital signage as suppliers struggle for critical mass and unaware end users seek pricing advantages. Patent compliance is typically not part of sourcing criteria, though it does rear its head as installations become larger.

A patent troll (defines Wikipedia), “in pejorative usage, a patent troll is a person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent’s actual value or contribution to the prior art. Patent trolls often do not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question”.

Interestingly, the top result from a Goggle search under the words “patent troll” is an ad for patent troll insurance “for less than $100 per month”. That would be $100 per month for each media player software license by the way.

Trolls do not want to sell anything involving the patent they are awarded. They simply want to monetize their investment in filing with usage licensing fees. Trolls charge tolls. Like the children’s storybook character of a troll beneath the bridge, the troll bullies or extorts a fee for the use of a bridge. As digital signage is a bridge to greater communications productivity, the patent troll wants its toll. Travellers pay up or take the long or treacherous alternative route.

There are about 50 key patents in digital signage application and thousands of others related to the technology elements (i.e. flat panels, media players, etc.).

Worst case scenarios include receiving a cease-and-desist letter, time/expense related to assessment and defense, unexpected fees, or inability to apply the technology as invested and planned.

In short, an end user must assure that patent compliance is not an exposure during vendor sourcing.

Vendors must take actions, as many primary providers, in particular of Content Management Software, already have to negate risks or future fees that they or their end user clients might endure.

Patent trolls are acknowledged as a challenge to commerce where intellectual property rights are a reward for research investment leading to unique insights and practices. Where trolls and tolls are synonymous in the intellectual property rights regime, sustainable providers are those defined as having the legal right to conduct commerce.

In July 2016, Stratacache announced its acquisition of the outdoor digital board product line and related intellectual property from Civiq Smartscapes. This positions Stratacache to serve the drive-thru requirements of quick-serve restaurants, coffee and pastry locations, banks and others in outdoor commerce with patented digital promotion, menu, transactional order confirmation displays.

The digital signage technology ecosystem of hardware and software has proven its value in improving the productivity of places, processes and people. A foundation of end users, and providers enjoying this benefit on a sustainable basis is that patents for the application of these technologies is owned or licensed. Caveat emptor – “Let the buyer beware,” and providers as well.

Other reading on patents as follows:

A bipartisan consensus to address the issue is building in Washington By Steven Titch, Computerworld. Feb. 10, 2015. White Castle food services and digital menu boards referenced.

BroadSign challenges digital signage “patent trolls”, a guest post by Burr Smith on July 26, 2016

Trolls May Have Seven More Digital Signage Patents Coming (or More), post by Dave Haynes on October 25, 2013 reflecting conference commentary.
http://www.sixteen-nine.net/2013/10/25/advice-digital-signage-patent-trolls/

On-vehicle digital signage is on the move. Sept 2014 by Lyle Bunn. It bears noting that the Madonia Family Limited Partnership, which was awarded patent for Integrated Flat Panel Display for Mounting to Exterior Surfaces of Motor Vehicles. US Patent Number 7,478,492 B2 Issued January 20, 2009 is seeking to license this patent to a supply or impacted end user.

Lyle Bunn is a highly regarded analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s Digital Signage industry. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Municipal Use of Digital Signage – Part 1

July 5, 2016

Municipalities serve the residents and businesses that make up their community.

Safety, recreation, public transit, roads, social services, parking, water service and drainage are top of the list of ratepayer services. Many of these apply digital signage within departmental budgets to provide public information, while others such as transit, recreation, art and parking infrastructure use the medium to generate non-tax revenues.

Municipalities also want to attract visitors, new residents and businesses that contribute to growth and broaden the tax base.

Digital street infrastructure is high on the priority list of municipalities, as several capabilities have converged. Wi-Fi, mobile charging, proximity information caching, wayfinding, alerts, transit information, message and advertisement display and links to mobile phones can draw on the same infrastructure to bring streets, pedestrian areas, as well as shopping, entertainment and tourist districts to life.

New York City has been leading the way but many other cities are moving forward with similar plans. “District Detroit” is a 50-block area being rejuvenated as an area of shopping, sports, live entertainment, hospitality, business and living. The CityScapes of Dallas, anchored by the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart retail outlet is a similar undertaking.

The vitality and service to patrons of annual events such as South by Southwest SXSW in Austin mean that such events can bring significant financial benefit to the community. SXSW contributes over $300 million in economic benefit annually to Austin. Most municipalities have festivals or special events that attract visitors and increase their profile.

Special events that host large numbers of visitors and local participants can offer the focus and funding to enable media infrastructure. The potential for advertisers to align their branding with the spirit of the event is attractive to their branding. Economies are built into message delivery to a large, highly concentrated audience that self-identifies as sharing an interest. Advertising can be highly contextual and very effective at establishing brand awareness and alignment.

Trade show and exhibit producers learned the lesson of digital display revenues years ago. Temporary or trailer-mounted, mobile, large-format LED signs provide a way to assess the impact of digital media during an event while at the same time kick-starting a funding campaign for permanent multi-purpose signs.

Local business operators all have marketing budgets and seek to get the most for their communications investment. The modern appeal of digital signage operating in high traffic areas and engaging consumers with addition service elements allows the advertiser to gain exceptionally good exposure.

The action plan for municipalities related to digital signage should be:

  • Have individual departments assess how their service quality, community outreach and goals could be better met by using digital signage.
  • Determine locations of high viewership as candidates for installing ad-based digital out-of-home networks.
  • Use digital media to bring modern-ness and vitality to areas where more pedestrian traffic and commerce is desired.
  • Use festivals and special events to fund digital media infrastructure.

The knowledge gained by one department can be offered to others and the buying power of a broader application can benefit each budget area. The key is to start.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals. www.LyleBunn.com

The Strike Zone of Digital Signage

September 9, 2015

There is a definite “sweet spot” or “strike zone” that applies to digital signage projects as illustrated here..

Home Plate Digital

The end user team, including its advisors and suppliers have a growing degree of knowledge about the medium including what can be expected of its application and how to achieve business and communications value. On the vertical axis is the level of deployment that has occurred or is planned.

Strike Zone of Digital Signage

The sweet spot is when the level of deployment (i.e. investment) is supported by adequate knowledge. Experimentation and learning while doing can include a limited deployment that coincides with the level of knowledge of the medium.

Where deployment is proceeding without adequate knowledge, the project is doomed to failure or lack of additional build-out.

The benefits are not fully realized when there is a lower level of deployment than could best serve the organization’s goals.

Knowledge about objective-setting, content strategy and composition, technology infrastructure, optimization and the use of impact analytics position the end user to maximize their return on investment.

Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Rational Ignorance & The Illusion of the Unskilled

September 9, 2015

Economists use this term to describe inattention that is justified because the costs of paying attention outweigh the benefits.

Eyes looking

Digital signage has its points of rational ignorance. We accept that software designers know what they were doing, that operators are aware of network health and that some impact analysis is not worth quantifying.

Just as in financial matters, ignorance can have its price. Loss of portfolio valuation in finances is akin to loss of network value in digital signage.

In a blog titled “The Strike Zone of Digital Signage” the relationship between knowledge and deployment are described. The highest value – lowest risk relationship between knowledge and investment is characterized, as the areas of risk and under-benefit are noted.

Knowing “enough” is the key. But people’s Achilles heal is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

We further suffer from The Dunning-Kruger Effect, which was named from research at Cornell University in 1999. Wikipedia describes “this illusion of the unskilled” as “a cognitive bias wherein relatively unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate”.

These human biases indicate that we are pre-disposed to errors and omissions, with a tendency toward incurring risk where decisions are concerned.

While risk is part of every situation, managing or mitigating risk is part of what makes organizations successful. Acquiring knowledge through research, experience or drawing on subject matter expertise are tools in the process of accomplishing a worthy goal.

Expertise is especially valuable because knowledge acquisition is based on direction rather than discovery. The inter-relationship of elements and the relevance of each related to the investment decision being contemplated is a primary way of mitigating risk and reducing the fear of the unknown.

These, while going boldly, and knowingly forth will get the results you seek.

 

Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Learning from Lyle Bunn at DSE16

August 27, 2015

dse_logo

Lyle will present to AV, IT and security Integrators in how to benefit from digital signage opportunities.

He will also moderate 2 roundtables on each of “dynamic media in banking” and digital signage for staff communications. He is well qualified to open and moderate the discussion in these application areas.

Link to these sessions from http://www.lylebunn.com/events-2.php

Recorded webinars and presentations on digital signage now available

August 27, 2015

The relaunch of the website http://www.LyleBunn.com includes improved navigation for information-rich guides, articles an white papers.

Now the site also offers links to recorded webinars and presentations by digital signage subject matter expert Lyle Bunn.

A 4-chapter report on Digital Signage Trends & Directions, including audio presentation and powerpoint slides (of graphics, charts, etc.) has been posted to celebrate the relaunch of the site.

1-minute videos that describe services by Lyle Bunn can be seen at the SERVICES tab of LyleBunn.com for end users, suppliers and ad-based network operators.

The Digital Signage Planning Guide in its 6th edition is now available for online purchase

Dynamic Media Resources

July 12, 2012

Articles and whitepapers on a range of subjects related to Dynamic Digital Signage and Place-based media are available at http://www.LyleBunn.com – RESOURCES (no fee or registration required).